Alan Keyes
'Repeal and replace': Elitist scam
Health system should be based on 'private, voluntary associations'
By Alan Keyes
July 24, 2017

The GOP's purported effort to repeal and replace Obamacare appears to have reached an impasse. The maneuvering to deal with that impasse reveals (that is to say, unveils yet also hides) the fact that that effort is itself questionably sincere. The word "repeal" conveys the sense of calling back what was previously set forth, so that things return, insofar as possible, to what they once were. But "replace" conveys the sense of putting something new in place, not returning to the previous state of things. To Obamacare's conservative opponents, "repeal" means driving back Obama's salient thrust toward completing the socialist government takeover of the health sector. To their socialist-leaning GOP opponents, "replace" means putting something more competent and sustainable, but still offensively socialist, in its place.

Neither understanding involves returning to the original premises of what is supposed to be our republican, democratic, constitutional self-government. Neither involves rediscovering and applying an approach to health care that takes account of its principles and premises. Democracy refers to the strength or power of the people. But in human affairs, power involves harnessing natural forces to serve human activities, which is to say, activities undertaken by human beings for purposes they understand and choose to serve.

At present, our legislators carry on the discussion of health care as if the premises and principles of our self-government have little or nothing to do with the discussion. True to the false assumption of the modern Administrative State, they assume that the best administration of government can be achieved without reference to any standard of good in terms of which to judge what best achieves it. This failure to clarify the basis for good judgment may seem like carelessness – but it is actually a strategic choice. Absent a common sense of good, the results are most likely to be determined by the manipulation of forceful power. This abets the unchecked rule of those few who happen, at any given moment, to represent superior power.

The return of unchecked rule by the powerful few points to the end of democratic self-government epitomized, until recently, by the experience of the people of the United States. Once the present "repeal and replace" charade has reached its appointed culmination, the powerful few will have re-established themselves as the gatekeepers of life and death, reigning over masses of people enthralled by a sense of fearful expectancy that results from being dependent on the whims of their rulers for the routine preservation of their lives and the lives of those they love.

If, as a party, the GOP were truly committed to repelling the socialist assault on our self-government, they would cast the fight over Obamacare quite simply in those terms. They would make it clear that Americans determined to retain their liberty can never agree to surrender their initiative in any personally vital economic sector to the government – much less in the sector most obviously concerned with the everyday preservation of their physical lives: health care. They would recast the debate over health care in terms that highlight the simple purpose of returning it almost exclusively to the sphere of private initiative.

They would revisit, in that regard, the real purpose of "health insurance," as an aspect of private sector welfare activity, devised to assure that the benefits of medical science are not be restricted to the persons, servants, and favorites of the wealthy and powerful few. Instead of tussling over government schemes to pay for health care access for all, they would do everything possible to free individuals, and the voluntary associations they form, from tax and regulatory burdens that keep them from achieving their maximum potential. Instead of focusing mostly on subsidizing the profitability of health-care enterprises, they would look for ways to encourage and expand health care as a not-for-profit vocation, true to the premises and motives of service to humanity characteristic of true health-care professionals (in the ethical sense) from time immemorial.

Unlike the shallow rhetoric of the "repeal and replace" elitist scam, this way of thinking requires that we ponder the role that moral understanding and character must inevitably play in our economic life, especially in every activity undertaken in service to human health. Though most Americans agree that justice, right, and rights are essential to good government, these days they shy away from a frank discussion of moral precepts without which those concepts cannot be substantiated. Perhaps they fear the intractable, deadly, and destructive conflicts that have so often resulted from fundamental moral disagreements.

But this very prospect is the main reason for preserving the primacy of private-sector initiative in our social life. Acting on their own initiative, through private, voluntary associations, people can join together with those of like mind to pursue justice and right in ways adjusted to take account of their particular moral perspectives. Aside from avoiding unjust demands that people in general support or encourage activities they disapprove, this moral-based approach leads to a wealth of alternative approaches, offering individuals the choice to select the ones that best suit their particular sense of what good conscience requires.

In the health-care sector, this will not avoid all civil conflict, but it will focus attention on the need to assure that most resources are left under the control of private persons, so that:
  • Those resources can be used to second the motions that correspond to Americans' common sense of what is best;

  • Private, voluntary associations are given the greatest possible responsibility and leeway to undertake welfare activities beneficial to private individuals; and

  • Government welfare activities are confined to those that directly serve the general welfare, defined in terms of the integrity and security of the whole body politic, not the discrete bodies of private individuals, as such.
These assurances have implications for government taxation and regulation that would result in not just repeal of Obamacare's socialist provisions. It would obviate most aspects of the programs seeded by the socialist offensives pressed forward during the "New Deal" era and its aftermath. Contrary to the ideological assumptions predominant among the elitist faction, the greatest challenge involved in the repeal effort is not to determine the administrative details of the socialist scheme that replaces it. It is to revisit and clarify and release for action the moral premises and character essential to preserving democratic self-government.

Just as the debate over first principles strengthened the prospects for liberty and union in the 19th century, this debate should strengthen such prospects in the 21st. We should strive to end the moral confusion being fomented by the enemies of our constitutional self-government. We should take measures to release the common sense, initiative, and moral self-confidence of individual as well as corporate persons in the private sector. And they must undertake to answer, for themselves, the question that bedevils all our discussions of social welfare issues: Who commits to assuring care for the weak, infirm, and vulnerable people in our society, if the government does not? The self-motivated power of private conscience must pre- empt the coercive power of government – or else totalitarian government control will inevitably pre-empt the failed self-government of a people no longer willing to sustain it.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


Receive future articles by Alan Keyes: Click here

More by this author


Stephen Stone
HAPPY EASTER: A message to all who love our country and want to help save it

Stephen Stone
The most egregious lies Evan McMullin and the media have told about Sen. Mike Lee

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
FLASHBACK to 2020: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Robert Meyer
Competing religious claims

Cliff Kincaid
The next assassination attempt

Pete Riehm
America needs unity, but also accountability

Ronald R. Cherry
The Secret Service

Armand C. Hale
Where are my shoes?

Frank Louis
So now what?

Michael Bresciani
Thank God: Donald Trump is alive after assassination attempt

Linda Goudsmit
CHAPTER 27: Pronouns and Pantheism

Curtis Dahlgren
Emphasizing differences: Making a nightmare of the American Dream

Rev. Mark H. Creech
‘No other gods before me’: Seven false gods of the present age (Part 2)

Tom DeWeese
Is home ownership the American dream or an opportunity for government control?

Jerry Newcombe
A tale of two revolutions
  More columns


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons


Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites